Ruger is looking to draw new shooters with a fun new event.
Ruger Rimfire competition is a new action-shooting discipline that's easy and economical to take up.
To most people it would simply make sense not to show up for a world championship event with two guns you've barely fired and a course of fire you've never shot. I'm not most people; I'm not that smart.
Last August I traveled to Morro Bay, California, to compete in the first Ruger Rimfire World Championship at the Hogue Action Pistol Range. Okay, so it wasn't like championship-level shoots I'd competed in before--no pomp, no circumstance--but the 70 or so shooters there were dedicated to doing well, while having fun doing it.
I was there at the invitation of Ruger's Ken Jorgensen. He says the Ruger Rimfire matches grew out of an event that Nelson Dymond (who was match director for the Ruger championship) held about three or four years ago.
"It was a success in terms of interest from competitors and that families participated," Ken says. "We realized there is a need for events that are affordable in terms of equipment and ammo and that encourage families to shoot together."
While the competitors at the championship were largely male, there were a few juniors and women in attendance, and the way the event is designed, there seems no reason it shouldn't draw the people Ruger is trying to attract: new shooters.
The barriers to entry couldn't be lower. All you need are a rimfire pistol, rimfire rifle, cases and magazines for same, and some ammunition. (And while this is "Ruger" Rimfire match, you're not restricted to shooting that company's products. A junior on my squad used a Browning Buckmark handgun.) The way matches are squadded, two people could even use the same guns.
The guns don't have to be high-end, super-accurate pieces as it's a hits-for-time competition. The steel plates are sizable on most stages, and the distances aren't long, so most any gun will work. Heck, they don't even have to be semiautos as there's a cowboy division for revolvers and lever actions. There's an iron-sight division as well, so it's not even necessary to invest the money in red-dot sights.
All this makes it great for introducing new shooters to competition, which can go a long way in developing new people's skills and maintaining their interest over the long haul.
And while many of the people I shot with at the championships were serious-minded competitors--with some of the coolest-looking, high-tech rimfire pistols and rifles I've ever seen--almost everyone seemed just as interested in having a good time as in turning in a good score.
"Ruger wants to encourage families to enjoy the shooting sports and teach young people how to be safe and responsible with firearms," Ken says. "The format is fun and has a measure of competition that the young people in particular like. It is also in a very controlled environment that stresses safety."
Ruger's role in all this is to help facilitate the events and, of course, contribute to the prize table--which was well-stacked at the Hogue range with products from several supporting companies.
Ruger is in the process of creating a set of steel targets that can be made available for a match, and it has come up with a set of guidelines clubs can use to organize an event. According to Ken, though, the company is not looking to create an organization you have to belong to in order to shoot the matches.
Last year there were three regional matches held in California, Pennsylvania and New Mexico, plus the championship match in Morro Bay.
Ken says the goal is to have nine regionals across the country in addition to a championship match this year.
"I would like to see regionals grow to the point we see 75 to 100 participants at each. I hope the championship grows to be 100 plus and becomes a multi-day event that draws shooters from across the country."
Over the years, I've competed in smallbore rifle, silhouette, air pistol, highpower rifle, and I can say without reservation the Ruger Rimfire match was the most fun I ever had. The stages were challenging but in such a way that if you were an action-shooting novice like me, you could hit all the targets if you didn't worry about time.
For the more advanced shooters who were focused on posting a good score, the stages presented just as much of a challenge because once you speed it up, even relatively large, close targets can be missed. And mistakes are costly when times are measured in hundredths of a second.
How did I do? I was slow as molasses for the most part, but I had a terrific time and shot with some fine people. I know one thing: I plan to be on that firing line again this year for the championship shoot.
At press time, Ruger was still working on setting up a web page for people to get more information on matches in their area. In the meantime, you can visit Nelson Dymond's site, TeamRimfire.com. Clubs that are looking to host a match should contact Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.